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Baraka Bouts holds annual tournament, promotes female empowerment

| Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Notre Dame Women’s Boxing Club, also known as Baraka Bouts, is making final preparations for its annual three-day tournament after two months of training and fundraising. Quarterfinal matchups take place Wednesday night in Dahnke Ballroom with the semifinals and finals taking place on Nov. 11 and Nov. 17. Tickets for all three nights are $20.

Senior Molly Giglia, co-president of the club, is in her fourth year of participation in Baraka Bouts. Giglia’s responsibilities include planning the weekly workouts, an aspect of the club that is attractive to new members.

Photo courtesy of Molly Giglia

Notre Dame’s all-women boxing club, Baraka Bouts, begins its 2018 training with instruction on sparring. This year’s tournament will begin Wednesday.

“A lot of people come in and just say that they want to kind of learn boxing and they mostly just want the workout aspect of it because we do have really great workouts,” Giglia said. “We have like two-hour practices … and the first hour is usually some sort of high-intensity bodyweight workout, and then the second half of it is all instruction.”

Although participation in the annual competition is not required, Giglia said leadership of the club encourages all members to try out boxing techniques.

“We really encourage people to buy into the boxing instruction part as much as possible, even if they’re not planning on competing just because that’s a really important skill to learn,” Giglia said. “I think we introduce it in an easy enough and slow enough way that a lot of people who maybe never thought that they would actually box end up wanting to do that.” 

Senior captain Delany Bolton has been a member of Baraka Bouts for four years and is competing in her final tournament. Bolton did not compete in boxing until she came to Notre Dame.

“I heard that it was the largest women’s boxing club … and that it had a really good program,” Bolton said. “I also heard about Bengal Bouts, and so I just decided to try [Baraka Bouts] and then I absolutely fell in love with it.” 

With 13 brackets set for the tournament, nearly 100 women will be competing. Brackets are determined by size and weight to ensure even matchups. 

In order to compete in the tournament, members are expected to attend four practices a week and complete three rounds of sparring, a controlled practice environment that simulates a boxing match. 

Bolton said the communal nature of Baraka Bouts contributes to the success and participation in the club. 

“I think Baraka Bouts is really special because boxing is inherently an individual sport, and you’re focused on yourself and bettering yourself,” Bolton said. “What Baraka Bouts teaches is a way to step outside yourself and focus on the club first and the mission as well.”

Each week, members of Baraka Bouts go on “fun runs,” a workout where members dress up in a theme and collect donations. Fundraising from the club benefits underprivileged schools in Uganda, such as St. Joseph’s Hill and Lake View Secondary School. 

Giglia spoke on the club’s current goal of raising money to build an assembly hall for Lake View. The club also hopes to continue providing scholarships to Ugandan students. 

As the largest all-female club on campus, Giglia said the fundraising goals resound with the female empowerment aspect of the club.

“It’s that kind of idea that we’re keeping girls in school who would have been expected to start a family by now if they weren’t in school,” Giglia said. “And our role at Notre Dame as women who are given this opportunity for education is to kind of support them and we’re doing it through boxing, which is an activity that a lot of women don’t get to do.”

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About Alysa Guffey

Alysa is a sophomore pursuing a major in history with a minor in journalism, ethics and democracy. While she calls Breen-Phillips her home on campus, she is originally from Indianapolis. She currently serves as an associate news editor.

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